CHRISTMAS MESSAGE OF THE POPE AND PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA AND ALL AFRICA, THEODOROS
In the Orthodox Vineyard of Africa
We love Him, because He first loved us
(1 John 4:19)
The Incarnation of the Son and Word of God is not simply and only an historical event, but a constant call for the acceptance of the love of Jesus Christ. And the feast of the Nativity is nothing more than a celebration of our response to the love of God, Who. out of love for us, becomes man and lovingly asks:
Do we want to open the door of our hearts and to offer Him the warmth of our own manger? Do we want to open the door of our hearts and accommodate Him who, although God, humbly invites us to put Him into our lives and to be His children by grace?
Our own response to the call of the love of the Incarnate God is certainly not a mere verbal or theoretical response. It is a practical and experiential response It is a response to eternity, since God created us not for the earth but for heaven. He planted us in the nursery of the earth to transform us into paradise. And this transplanting is possible only when the tree is productive.
And our personal productiveness is not dependent on Him who planted us on earth. After all, the Lord, without making any distinction, has given all of us the seed of love, without distinguishing between the rich and the poor, the wise and the unwise, the lazy and the energetic, the brave and the cowardly. He did His work. And it is our responsibility to make the seed of his philanthropy grow or wither away.
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What is the factor that determines our personal well-being? It is the coldness or the warmth of our heart. It is the complacency of the ego or the denial of ourselves. It is ultimately the Herod or the Joseph that we hide in our hearts.
When Herod learned of the birth of the Messiah from the Magi, he was afraid. He was scared for himself, afraid that he would lose his power, and chose the cruel path of slaughtering infants.
When Joseph learned the plan of Divine Providence from the angel, he was afraid. He feared for the child that God had entrusted to him and chose the promising path of God’s ministry, in the Davidic exhortation “You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield” (Psalm 115:11).
And today, we move between the self-centeredness of Herod, who does not trust od love and is indifferent to his fellow man even to the point of killing, and the altruism of Joseph, who trusts God’s love and serves his fellow man.
My dear brothers and sisters,
Christ, who is born today, renews the salvific promise He gave us: “Behold, I am with you always, l the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Christ who is born today, renews again His loving dispensation to remain with us and to water the fields of our hearts with His love. What gift of love will we give him in return? The sword of Herod or the collaboration of Joseph? Our ego that hates our fellow man or the loving kindness of our hearts?
Christ is born and He invites us to remember our origins from God as His images. Christ is born and He invites us to genuinely feel for others, as He feels for us. Christ is born and He invites us to experience the transient present, as He Himself experienced His presence on Earth, as a complete emptying and shame.
Christ is born and with His love, cultivates our hearts. reflecting in them the garden of Paradise. Let us respond to this call of love from Christ and let us do whatever we can. And Christ who is born today, will complete that which is lacking, because ‘He first loved us”.
Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa
In the Great City of Alexandria, Feast of the Nativity, 2019
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